This past NFL season started with such promise for the Green Bay Packers, as a hobbled Aaron Rodgers led an epic comeback at Lambeau Field on opening night. The Pack scored 21 points in the final quarter to beat the Chicago Bears 24-23 and start the year 1-0. The problem? Rodgers' injury was more significant than it appeared in the second half of that game, one many believed he was able to finish thanks to whatever it was he took to get back out there (check out the viral postgame interview and you'll know what we mean).
The two-time NFL MVP was never quite the same, yet he still played in 14 of the team's remaining 15 games despite being less than 100 percent. It turned into an ugly year though, as the Packers dropped seven of their next 11, including a disastrous home loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals, the game that got head coach Mike McCarthy fired.
This past year more than ever, rumors that always existed of a rift between McCarthy and Rodgers ramped up to an all-time high. A longform piece that ran on Bleacher Report on Thursday confirmed this rift, and reported that it wasn't something that came about in recent years as McCarthy's scheme grew stale in Green Bay. This was a chasm that had dated all the way back to the day Rodgers was drafted 23 picks after Alex Smith, who McCarthy had a hand in drafting while still on the San Francisco coaching staff.
The Bleacher Report article is less-than flattering for both Rodgers and McCarthy, the former coming out looking like a whiney diva (another formerly well-kept secret) and the latter coming out looking like a guy who completely lost control of the ship. Perhaps the most shocking reveal came from former Green Bay Packer Greg Jennings, Rodgers' longtime No. 1 receiver who connected with Rodgers for 38 of his 64 career touchdowns.
During a game against the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, a contract year for Jennings that wound up being his final in Green Bay, Jennings was approached mid-game by Niners corner Carlos Rodgers, who jokingly asked the receiver why he was running so many short routes. Jennings sniped back with "You know how it is. Contract year." Rodgers overheard this and stepped in. Here's how Jennings recalled the exchange, per Bleacher Report writer Tyler Dunne's piece:
That's when Rodgers stepped in to say, per Jennings, "You guys should get him at the end of the year."
Jennings walked back to the huddle speechless.
"I don't think he realizes what he said and the impact that it had," Jennings says. "Had the shoe been on the other foot and I said, 'Hey, man, I should come and play with your quarterback,' he would've been so offended by that. But when it comes out of his mouth—and we all know there's truth behind jokes—for him to say that and just act as though everything was the same? It just wasn't."
The next day, Jennings told his position coach, Edgar Bennett, he knew this was his last year in Green Bay. "That was my headspace," he admits.
That's just one of the many stories told by former teammates of Rodgers that paint him in a negative light in the full article, which you should absolutely go read. But the Jennings incident in particular is a head scratcher. To the impartial observer, he and Rodgers seemed like best buds, though it made sense considering they connected for a boatload of yards and touchdowns together. Jennings thought so too, but apparently the feeling wasn't mutual. Jennings went to Minnesota the following year and had a couple of respectable seasons before ending his career in Miami in 2015.